Minister of Transport, Works and Housing, Dr. the Hon. Omar Davies, is encouraging local businesses to identify ways of collaborating with their Chinese counterparts in order to exploit opportunities from investment projects here and overseas.
He urged the business community not see Chinese investment in Jamaica as a threat, but instead, look to the potential created by these projects. He cited the potential development of a major logistics centre in Jamaica as a possible investment prospect for local businesses.
Dr. Davies was speaking at a forum on ‘Doing Business With China’, hosted by the Jamaica China Friendship Association and the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China on June 11, at the Wyndham Kingston Hotel.
The Minister noted that the local private sector has had a long history of doing business with China, but that this has been “one-sided,” focused mainly on the importation of finished Chinese products.
He noted that while this has provided affordable goods for consumers, limited foreign exchange is being utilized to finance the importations, and suggested that local business persons “seek to expand the cooperation with their Chinese counterparts by identifying economic sectors, which will focus on economic growth and development”.
Dr. Davies said the government is encouraging Chinese investment in infrastructure which, “simultaneously improve the quality of life for Jamaicans as well as provide the basis for expanded economic activity."
He explained that by inviting private capital for such investment, the government will have the opportunity to utilise its scarce financial resources for social services.
The Minister stated that the Government is not pursuing a policy of giving any preferential treatment to the Chinese as a source of investment capital at the expense of traditional trading partners. He noted, however, that the “Chinese entrepreneurs, with access to a virtually unlimited pool of investment capital… hold a clear advantage over those from other countries".
Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, His Excellency Zheng Qingdian, noted that Jamaica’s bilateral trade with China last year was valued at US$375 million, which was a 56 per cent increase over 2010, making China the nation’s fourth largest trading partner.
He noted that more high quality but low priced Chinese goods were being imported into Jamaica while his country was now importing more Jamaican agricultural products, especially Blue Mountain Coffee.
The Ambassador pointed to the increasing investments of Chinese firms in Jamaican infrastructure and housing, and noted that the economic cooperation is getting stronger. He said in coming years, the Chinese Embassy will continue to push for greater friendship between the two countries.
The Embassy, through Counsellor Madame Liu Lei, gave a comprehensive overview on ‘Why People May Be Interested In Doing Business with China’ and ‘What You Should Know About Doing Business with China’. She also listed a number of projects, which are scheduled to come on stream in Jamaica through Chinese investments.
These include: The Chinese Garden project in Hope Gardens; Renovation of the road and water supply in Sligoville; mobile container x-ray and scanning equipment; and construction of early childhood institutions and an office building for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign trade.
Jamaica is marking 40 years of diplomatic relations with China this year.